A. & J. Fletcher

Builders

A. & J. Fletcher, builders, of Kirkintilloch, Dunbartonshire were members of a long-established local family of stonemasons. Brothers Andrew (c. 1842–1900), John (c. 1844–1899) and James Fletcher (c. 1847–1882), were 'Messrs Fletcher' or 'Andrew Fletcher & Brothers', builders. 1 After James emigrated in 1881–2, the firm became 'Fletcher Brothers', or more usually, 'A. & J. Fletcher, builders'. 2

Described as being 'almost the only builders' in town, the Fletchers erected many buildings, including St Mary's Church manse (1881) 3 ; Lairdsland School (1875; 1893); Lenzie Academy (1886–7); and in 1892–3, the Original Secession (later South United Free, then Baptist) Church, Townhead, Kirkintilloch. 4 The Fletchers were themselves active members of this latter congregation, as well as life-long temperance campaigners. 5

In the 1880s and 1890s, Kirkintilloch and adjacent Lenzie became popular with Glasgow's middle-class railway commuters. Accordingly, Fletcher's provided detached villas around Alexandra Street and Northbank Road, such as James's own 'Forthbank' (1886). 6 They also rebuilt farmhouses on the Whitelaw family's Gartshore estate nearby. 7

On James's death in 1899, his widow raised mortgages on their properties and built flats to rent. 8 After Andrew's death in 1900, his sons, William (c. 1869–1944) and James (c. 1879–1958), both later Provosts of Kirkintilloch, worked under William's name, only officially becoming 'W. & J. Fletcher' in 1915. 9 Among their contracts were tenements on Industry Street (1902–3), cottages for Woodilee Asylum staff (1900), and various working-class housing in the 1900s. 10

James Fletcher's sons, builders James (later Sir), William J. and teacher John S. Fletcher emigrated to New Zealand between 1908 and 1916. William was the mason and brickwork contractor for the addition to Lenzie United Free Church (also known as Lenzie Union Church) in 1906. When he emigrated in 1911, John Keppie wrote a testimonial for him to use in New Zealand which stated that the work '... involved complicated Gothic arches, and very elaborate stone cutting'. 11 William Fletcher was also employed by architect William Baillie in Kirkintilloch, on both St David's Parish Church chancel, and on St David's Free Church halls (1911) for a completely separate congregation, and Baillie also wrote a testimonial for New Zealand. 12

James and William established a new firm in New Zealand, initially with Englishman Albert Morris, later known as Fletcher Brothers. By the 1990s, the firm was called Fletcher Challenge, one of Australasia's largest multinational corporations with interests in construction, timber, paper and energy. Following the sale of assets and the reorganisation of the firm around 2000, the firm continues today (2013) as Fletcher Building Ltd. 13

Notes:

1: Census data, www.ancestry.co.uk [accessed 22 June 2013]; Falkirk Herald, 8 February 1877, p. 5; Glasgow Herald, 4 July 1881, p. 8.

2: Census data, www.ancestry.co.uk; death data, www.scotlandspeople [both accessed 22 June 2013]; Neil Robinson, James Fletcher: Builder, London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1970, p. 12.Slater’s Royal National Commercial Directory of Scotland 1886, p. 411; Glasgow Herald, 4 March 1885, p. 3; 19 June 1894, p. 8.

3: Glasgow Herald, 4 July 1881, p. 8; 'Death of Mr Andrew Fletcher', Kirkintilloch Herald, 19 September 1900, p. 4.

4: 'Death of Mr Andrew Fletcher', Kirkintilloch Herald, 19 September 1900, p. 4; Kirkintilloch, William Patrick Library, Local Studies Collection, News Clippings File: People, Fletcher, Jean, 'Reminiscences of Kirkintilloch', p. 3; John Gifford, Frank Arneil Walker and Richard Fawcett, Buildings of Scotland: Stirling and Central Scotland, New Haven, CT, and London: Yale University Press, 2002, pp. 567, 573, 601; 'About Us: Story', Kirkintilloch Baptist Church, www.kirkiebaptist.com [accessed 22 June 2013].

5: Kirkintilloch Herald, 9 August 1944, p. 4; Kirkintilloch, William Patrick Library, Local Studies Collection, Kirkintilloch Herald Index Cards, 'Biography: Fletcher, James, Ex-Provost, Netherfield', 'Biography: Fletcher, Helen L., Brackenbrae', 'Biography: Fletcher, John,' Biography, Fletcher, William', 'Biography: Fletcher, Miss Mary, Forthbank'.

6: M. Cross, personal communication, 23 June 2013; Neil Robinson, James Fletcher: Builder, London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1970, pp. 9, 12; Glasgow Herald, 4 March 1885, p. 3; 19 June 1894, p. 8; 20 February 1897, p. 11; Falkirk Herald, 12 December 1903, p. 6; Robin Kent, Conservation Area Appraisal: Kirkintilloch Central ..., 2008, pp. 25–7; online pdf document, Planning – Natural and Historic Environment, www.eastdunbarton.gov.uk [accessed 23 June 2013]; East Dunbartonshire, Appraisal of the Conservation ... Areas of Lenzie, 2010, pp. 7–14, Consultation Archive 2010–11: Review of Conservation Areas, www.eastdunbarton.gov.uk [accessed 23 June 2013].

7: Neil Robinson, James Fletcher: Builder, London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1970, p. 13.

8: Neil Robinson, James Fletcher: Builder, London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1970, p. 16.

9: Kirkintilloch Herald, 9 November 1921, p. 5; 9 August 1944, p. 4; Kirkintilloch, William Patrick Library, Local Studies Collection, Kirkintilloch Herald Index Cards, 'Biography: Fletcher, James, Ex-Provost, Netherfield', 11 November 1942; 17 October 1945; 30 April 1958; Edinburgh Gazette, 13 March 1900, p. 253; 18 May 1915, p. 721; Dundee Courier, 15 May 1915, p. 2.

10: Falkirk Herald, 24 February 1900, p. 3; 7 February 1903, p. 6; Kirkintilloch Herald, 11 July 1900, p.4; Kirkintilloch, William Patrick Library, Local Studies Collection, Kirkintilloch Herald Index Cards, 'Biography: Fletcher, William, Ex-Provost, ... Brackenbrae', 'Trades: Building, Fletcher, William', 11 March 1903; 12 April 1905; 21 November 1906; 17 February 1909 (index occasionally confuses namesakes, uncle and nephew, Provost William and emigrant William J. Fletcher).

11: Kirkintilloch Herald, 23 August 1911, p. 4; John Gifford, Frank Arneil Walker and Richard Fawcett, Buildings of Scotland: Stirling and Central Scotland, New Haven, CT, and London: Yale University Press, 2002, pp. 598–9; Kirkintilloch, William Patrick Library, Local Studies Collection, Kirkintilloch Herald Index Cards, 'Trades: Building, Fletcher, William', 15 February 1911 (index has here confused namesakes, uncle and nephew, Provost William and emigrant William J. Fletcher).; Kirkintilloch, William Patrick Library, Local Studies Collection, News Clippings File: People, William Fletcher, Builder, 'Copy of Testimonial from Messrs. Honeyman, Keppie & Mackintosh, F.R.I.B.A., Glasgow, 22 July 1911, to Wm J. Fletcher'.

12: Kirkintilloch, William Patrick Library, Local Studies Collection, News Clippings File: People, William Fletcher, Builder, 'Copy of Testimonial from Wm. Baillie, Esq, I. A. Glasgow, 19 August 1911, to Wm J. Fletcher'; Kirkintilloch Herald, 15 February 1911, p. 4.

13: 'Brief History of Fletcher Challenge Ltd', The Fletcher Trust Archive, www.fclarchives.co.nz; 'Timeline', From Neighbourhoods to Nations: Celebrating 100 years of Fletcher, www.fletchersince1909.com/ [both accessed 23 June 2013].